Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Better Use for Sugar: Gasoline!

While not ready for prime time, new technology is in the works that can convert sugar to gasoline at an efficiency rate of 65%. It works by passing the sugars over nano-sized metal catalysts and requires very little energy input to run unlike current fermentation processes. Better yet, this method results in gasoline, NOT ethanol, which can be damaging to metals and rubbers used in car parts.

"An alloy of the precious metals platinum and rhenium triggers the first step of the conversion. Dumesic and his colleagues deposited 2-nanometer-wide specks of this alloy onto surfaces made of pure carbon. When a liquid mixture of water and plant sugar flows over the platinum-rhenium particles at the right temperature and pressure, the metal atoms act as catalysts to cleave chemical bonds in the sugar, releasing oxygen and leaving behind a mixture of molecules containing carbon and hydrogen — the principal elements in gasoline and diesel."
Full story

There is still a lot of work to do on this process and catalyst costs may be an issue, but hopefully this line of study will result in getting sugars out of American's diets and in to something much more useful that wont cause obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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